OGDEN Woods Cross wasn't even supposed to be in this position. Only a few weeks ago, the Wildcats appeared to be on their way to a Region 5 championship and the top seed that came with it.
But things turned sour quickly as Woods Cross slid downward. The Wildcats wrapped up region play with three straight losses. Goodbye, region title. Hello, fourth seed.
No one is likely to remember how Woods Cross got to the Dee Events Center. What Wildcat fans will remember is their 57-56 upset of Region 6 champion Olympus on Tuesday night.
The fact his players prevailed after going down to the final seconds with the Titans felt sweetest of all to Woods Cross coach Todd Street. The Wildcats had struggled in similar situations during their losing streak. All three of their losses came away from home and went down to the final minute.
"It wasn't like we weren't used to being in that situation," Street said. "It's nice to be on the winning end of one, though."
Woods Cross is now working on building the kind of streak they have been more accustomed to seeing this season a winning streak.
To do that, though, they will have to figure out how to conquer Mountain Crest, which advanced to play the Wildcats with a 61-51 victory over Mountain View.
The Mustangs owned Woods Cross during region play. They notched a pair of five point victories beating the Wildcats 50-45 in mid-January and 63-58 nearly two and a half weeks ago. Woods Cross struggled in those losses containing point guard Seth Coombs, who averaged 15 points in the two Mustang victories.
Finding an advantage in the backcourt again could be tough a third time. Mountain Crest coach Jim Crosbie is confident Woods Cross will be motivated to exact revenge.
"We got our work cut out for us," Crosbie said. "I'm sure they want a piece of us."
No doubt a primary focus of the Mustangs' defensive game plan will involve putting extra pressure on Holton Hunsaker to disrupt the Wildcats' offensive rhythm. Taking such an approach comes with a risk, after Woods Cross introduced a new wrinkle to combat that strategy against Olympus.
With Hunsaker getting consisently double teamed in the first half, Troy Owen took over the bulk of ball handling duties after halftime. While Owen initiated the offense, Hunsaker moved off of screens along the baseline to get in scoring position. He finished with 26 points.
Beating Mountain Crest would be a nice way for Woods Cross to continue its reversal of fortune. But reaching the semifinals at the expense of the Mustangs will be a bumpy road.
At the very least, both teams might come out with a few extra bumps and bruises just like in the two teams earlier meetings."Mountain Crest is a very physical team," Hunsaker said. "Everyone from our region is physical. (But) we're used to the physicality. It's always good to get the nerves out of your system coming into the state tournament."